LGBTI Refugee Rights

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Nobody should have to flee their home because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In many societies, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination, persecution and violence on a daily basis. This often leaves LGBTI people with no choice but to seek asylum elsewhere. Others are paralysed by fear, suffer in silence and attempt to hide their sexual orientation or gender identities in an effort to avoid danger, further compounding their vulnerability. In recent decades, the number of LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers has risen, with most qualifying as ‘members of a particular social group’ under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Even when they have sought asylum, some LGBTI refugees are still not safe, as host countries may welcome refugees, but discriminate against LGBTI people.

Donate to help LGBTI refugees

Meet the Mexican friar providing a safe haven for LGBTI refugees

countries around the world criminalize same-sex relations

countries punish same-sex relations with the death penalty

UNHCR training sessions delivered to communities to help respond to needs of LGBTI people

How You Can Help

UNHCR works to protect LGBTI refugees in a number of ways. UNHCR trains staff to be aware of the particular challenges facing LGBTI refugees and will make every effort to create a safe environment in registration facilities, in camps and settlements so that LGBTI refugees can identify themselves and seek help.

UNHCR also creates safe spaces for LGBTI identifying people to seek help and socialize, helps LGBTI refugees access medical and psycho-social support and where possible, will seek to resettle LGBTI refugees to a third country where they are able to live safely with their true identity.

Funds are urgently needed in order for UNHCR to continue delivering these programmes in many other communities around the world. Your support will help us actively identify LGBTI refugees and displaced people and connect them with the help they need.

You can also learn more about UNHCR’s work to protect LGBTI refugees in our Global Report “Protecting Persons with Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities“.

“We are normal people who are living here. But we are different than the other people because we had some problems – that’s why we are refugees.”

Help us protect and support LGBTI refugees

LGBTI refugees fleeing discrimination and violence need essential services and safe spaces to access support. Your monthly donation helps fund critical programs and resources to help them.

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UNHCR’s Protection Objectives for LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers

LGBTI persons are at heightened risk of violence, abuse, discrimination and exploitation from the very onset of an emergency, while in transit, and once they arrive in countries of asylum.

UNHCR works to protect LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers everywhere and has set a number of protection objectives:

  • To train national and international personnel and partners to be aware of the specific protection needs of LGBTI persons.
  • To ensure that UNHCR and partner offices, registration facilities etc. are welcoming, safe spaces for LGBTI persons of concern.
  • To put appropriate systems in place that will prevent and respond to violence against, or exploitation and abuse of, LGBTI persons during an emergency.
  • To consult LGBTI persons of concern and make sure that their views inform the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of emergency responses.
  • To ensure that LGBTI persons of concern do not suffer discrimination and fully participate in decisions that affect them.

With your support, we can continue this vital work and assist LGBTI refugees.

LGBTI refugees in Canada speak out on their journey to safety and proudly show who they are in the photo exhibition "Am I Wrong to Love?"

A photograph of Nouran Hussein, 23, Egypt

Read the full article “Am I Wrong to Love?”.

“In Guatemala the police were as bad as the gangs because I am transgender. The police would not protect me. Here in Mexico I feel respected and safe and thankful for the support from UNHCR.”

Dulcie, 43 years old.

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